The unix startup approach

1 minute read

I often think about how beautiful the Unix-based operating system is with its processes, file structure, commands, packages, and open-source nature. In fact, it costs basically nothing once you have the hardware to use Linux, for example.

This got me wondering about the ever-increasing expense ecosystem for startups. You can argue that it is driven by the increasing availability of startup-oriented tools built by other startups, but the bottom line is brand new companies are spending a lot of money on a suite of services to make them run.

I’m not going to argue that these expenses aren’t useful, often they may be the factor between stagnation and hypergrowth. But in the spirit of the lean startup, I think we have a lot to learn from Unix.

1) More open-source, more free to use

It’s wonderful that Linux is free to use, especially if you’re an individual. Businesses are made up of individuals, so let’s follow the same motto? I imagine more and more tools used by startups will become free, or a competitor will come along that is free. Some examples are Typeform, Zoom, SendGrid, etc…. They have free options, but a business will most likely need to pay for actual usage.

2) Hierarchy, but with permissions and accessibility.

Some things should not be tampered with, and that’s why the root user exists on nix systems, but the user can, with permission access anything and visualize everything that is going on in the OS. A startup should emulate this by being transparent with all activities, even if not all the people can change the decisions of these processes.